For those of you who might be following along, yesterday marked day 4 of my experiment with a nutrition and weight loss plan based on carb cycling. Before I share this recipe with you, let me set the record straight about some things I’ve discovered that you’ll need to know if you’re going to try this carb cycling program yourself:

  1. Things are not always what you think they are – milk is not considered a protein, but to be avoided for it’s high sugar and often high fat properties
  2. Most foods contain not just a single nutrient, but various nutrients, so you need to know where the author places things – nuts and cheese are considered a fat, not a protein, so should be combined with a protein on a low carb day – and that also means omitted on high carb days or your overall calories will be too high for weight loss.
  3. Beans and legumes are considered a carb – so it won’t work to substitute them for protein on a low carb day if you are a vegetarian – you’ll need instead to look to things like nonfat plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, egg substitutes or protein powders if you don’t eat meat.
  4. Peas, corn, and carrots count as carbs because of their high sugar content, not vegetables – so while vegetables are really unlimited, you’ll want to count these as a carb if you eat them and only include them on high carb days.
  5. I find it best to think of fruit as a carb since it’s so high in sugar – I include it at breakfast (because every breakfast is a high carb meal to get your furnace started) and then as a snack for my carb choice on high carb days.
  6. If you’re struggling with what’s a low carb or high carb meal, just remember low carb = protein + fat, whereas high carb = protein + carb. Notice that fat and carb never go together – that’s because they are too high in calories to allow weight loss.

In the beginning I was struggling to think what amount of food I should eat. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life and the thought of eating 5 meals a day had me terrified I was going to eat too much and just gain weight on this plan. But a good way to think of it is in 250 calorie meals, 5 times a day – that would be 1250 calories which is right in the range. You might be a little less on low carb days and a little more on high carb days, but I found it easier to think this way. Unfortunately, until you figure out what you are doing, that means some weighing, measuring, and looking up portion sizes and calorie counts. Although it’s protein at each meal, it’s not a 6 ounce burger at each meal.I also struggled the first day or two trying to figure out what to eat at what time of the day. Turns out that yesterday I made this fabulously quick and delicious chili in a two portion serving, and had it both for lunch and dinner. There’s nothing to say you can’t have it for breakfast if you like this kind of food early in the day. And there’s nothing to say you can’t have your typical breakfast foods for your afternoon snack. The only rule is to follow the guidelines for the makeup of your meals and eat the required 5 times. Oh, and of course, you should be exercising, but you knew that, right? Here’s a sample Low Carb and High Carb day for me to help you visualize:

Low Carb Day
Breakfast – Greek yogurt (protein – 1/2 cup) with berries (carb – 1/2 cup) and oatmeal (carb – 1/3 cup dry)
Snack – Whole eggs (protein and fat as the yolks count as fat – 2) scrambled with peppers (1/2 cup)
Lunch – Salad with tuna (protein – 3 ounces), lots of veggies, lime dressing (fat – included 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil)
Snack – Nonfat cottage cheese (protein – 1/2 cup), mozzarella cheese stick (fat) – I would not do this combo again – it was my first day and I was struggling with what to eat when!
Dinner – Beef (protein – 3 ounces) and veggie stirfry (fat – used small amount of oil in stir fry)
Calories – 1213

High Carb Day
Breakfast – Greek yogurt (protein – 12/ cup) with berries (carb – 1/2 cup) and oatmeal (carb – 1/3 cup dry)
Snack – Egg whites (protein – 4) with peppers and onions, Whole Wheat Irish bread (carb – 1 slice)
Lunch – Whole wheat spaghetti (carb – 2 ounces dry) and veggies, with marinara and nonfat cottage cheese (protein – 1/2 cup)
Snack – Tuna (protein – 3 ounces) with light mayo (considered a flavoring, not a fat), celery, light rye crisp (carb – 1, but I should had had 2)
Dinner – Salmon (protein – 4 ounces) and an apple (carb)
Calories – 1296
So back to that chili – let me tell you what it has in it and what it doesn’t. It has lots of veggies to provide volume, a serving of healthy carbs by way of the beans, and a small amount (2 ounces per serving) of lean protein (bison) – and it has plenty of flavor. What it doesn’t have is any added fat – no oil was used to cook the veggies, no cheese, sour cream or avocado on top – but you could make a similar dish for a low carb day, omit the beans from the mix, and top it with avocado and a scoop of nonfat greek yogurt. Are you getting the idea now? If you’re trying to take this journey with me, add this recipe to your repertoire.

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Quick Healthy Chili with Bison and Beans
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • 4 ounces cooked ground bison, drained of fat
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, diced or minced (remove seeds to reduce heat)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 cup cooked beans
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients except the beans in a saucepan and heat until bubbling; reduced heat and simmer until the liquid starts coming out of the vegetables and they begin to soften. Add the beans and simmer everything together until soft and the ingredients come together, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stay tuned to follow my 6 week journey of carb cycling where I’ll include recipes, tips, tools, and share my experience with you.